Grey walls – these times are over
RECKLI has been in business for more than 45 years. Pioneering spirit, high quality requirements and the courage to change is what has made this company the hidden champion of the industry. An interview with RECKLI’s managing director Dr. Bernd Trompeter.
Summarized in three sentences: What makes RECKLI what it is?
RECKLI is the specialist in the field of architectural concrete and represents freedom of creativity when shaping concrete for more than 45 years. We have the highest demands on design and individuality. We also work closely with planners and architects around the world.
A self-image that has evolved through the years?
Indeed. We are very aware of our origins and are proud of all that we have achieved until now. We are still inspired by the founding idea of RECKLI – Structuring concrete with an elastic formliner. Our formliners open a design window of opportunity for architects and planners. Grey walls – these times are over now. The requirements for architectural concrete have changed over the last years. That is why we have to keep up with the technology. That is the only way we can fulfill our customer’s demands and deliver the perfect result. We are not resting on our success but looking into the future. This means that we need to permanently refine our products, not only to remain up to date with current trends, but also to create new trends of our own.
Where does this claim for innovation and inspiration come from?
Basically, that is the founding idea of RECKLI. The entrepreneurs Hans Jürgen Wiemers and Franz Ernst searched for ways to structure visible concrete surfaces with the help of elastic rubber to realize the most ambitious designs. Convinced of this idea they started to experiment until they found the perfect composition for the elastomers. The formliner needs to be solid in order to mould the concrete; but, at the same time, it needs to be elastic so it can be demoulded easily. This way the process remains economical. After the correct composition had been found the first drafts soon followed. Wiemers and Ernst started off with about 10 patterns resembling wood or plaster. They also had the first rib structures. Some of the oldest designs are Altmühl‹, Marne, and Havel. They used to advertise them in their neighborhood. At that time, Wiemers and Ernst used to drive through the Ruhr area and showing their image and prefabricated parts to architects and planners. They quickly generated excitement. Two entrepreneurs…with a great product that was easy to handle. Their innovative spirit is what drives us forward.
In what way does the founding idea have influence on RECKLI’s development?
The pleasure of challenges is the guiding principle of our work. That is the reason we offer more than 250 different designs for our formliners; and, in addition to that, we give our customers the room for individual creativity. They may use their unique expressions with our 3D formliners, the photo-engraving technique or our artico foils as well as different techniques of their unique development. Also available is a pile of our own drafts which we are going to process and manufacture in our own model-making facilities. We combine traditional handcraft with modern technique; and, in the end, we are able to respond to each of our customer’s wishes, no matter from what part of the world the order comes.
How is it that RECKLI had enough confidence to enter the international market when it was still a young company?
The launch of the formliners was such a great success that after a short period of time we were receiving requests from foreign countries. In the mid 1970’s, we started exporting into the Middle East. Thanks to the fact that the Arabic way of construction is extremely detailed and individual, the demand for a product like ours is immense. In 2014, we founded the subsidiary company RECKLI Middle East which is located in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. Our international commitment is based on a global concept with local manifestations. This means that we are following an international strategy which can later be adjust to the local circumstances. Working abroad has shown us that trends can vary extremely between different regions. The development of the German market is not the same as the market development in Russia or Australia. This is why we create and manufacture our models and formliners on-site in Australia, the United States, the United Arabic Emirates and China. Today, we are represented in about 65 countries with our own branches and exclusive partners.
RECKI has also been extremely busy on the domestic market during the past years and has launched a number of new products.
Our understanding of aesthetics changes constantly. It is important to us that we do not just spot trends but also create them actively. It is not just about the structuring of the concrete anymore. The designs are becoming more and more individual and require new techniques. This is the reason we are offering photo-engraved and 3D formliners which enable completely new optical effects on facades. We have extended our product range adding products such as artico and the staining system NAWTONE because processes like ennoblement or color design are getting more and more important. The only way you can survive in the market is to reinvent yourself and be courageous. For that reason we have formulated a cooperative venture with the photo-voltaic specialists Heliatek and are currently doing research on the topic of solar concrete.
A new challenge?
And a new chance! We want to make our contribution to the green building of the future. Heliatek developed an organic photo-voltaic technology with whose help solar cells can be applied on a foil. By this technique, concrete surfaces can be used for the generation of solar electricity. The only challenge is how to embed these foils into the concrete. Therefore, Heliatek asked us, the specialists, for help and placed their trust in our know-how. Together we are working on a solution and are preparing the product for its soon-to-be market launch. The solar concrete surface is going to introduce the green revolution into the field of building design.